Can You Revive That Big Project? Consider Remote Project Management

COVID-19 might have derailed your project plans, but it’s worth considering what might still be possible remotely. There might be more to salvage than you think.

There might have been a time when you thought 2020 was going to be the year you’d take on that big project you’ve been planning. But if you’re looking a bit longingly at your resolutions and thinking that the opportunity has passed you by because of the strange times we’re in, I’d like to encourage you to take a deep breath and reconsider.

It might be possible to save those big projects. Here are a few remote project management considerations for associations looking to revive a project that’s been put on hold since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Assess what’s done and what needs to be done.  The software review firm Capterra offers (with the help of a few Dilbert comics) some advice on what to do to fix a project that’s not working. Start by taking a step back to analyze what’s gumming up the works. Check in with stakeholders to figure out what is and isn’t working. You might find you need to shake up the current team to get things moving again. “Even the best project managers—those with excellent project plans, appropriate budgets, and fantastic scope control—struggle, on occasion, with project failure,” Capterra’s Rachel Burger writes.

Find out how your vendor is faring in the crisis. Your vendors may be facing challenges similar to yours due to COVID-19. Those factors could cause delays and even work stoppages for some projects, which may trigger some contract-related questions. “As schedule slippages are not uncommon in technology implementations, most technology development contracts will anticipate them and include provisions that address them,” attorney Jeffrey D. Neuburger writes in a recent article for The National Law Review. “However, it is unlikely that these provisions consider slippage caused by the external factors like COVID-19 impacting both parties, and, therefore, the remedies and procedures that they provide may not be practical in this situation.” But if there’s a way to move forward after assessing potential risks and challenges, don’t be afraid to go full steam ahead. After all, you are likely communicating with a vendor remotely already.

Adjust your communications as needed. When you’re not in the same room as your team anymore, managing a project can get more complicated—video calls can be chaotic, and email threads can inadvertently introduce tension between colleagues. Over at CIO, writer Christina Wood interviewed a number of tech-industry figures on remote project management issues, and many cited the importance of clear communication. “There are all these lightweight, nuanced, subtle ways we talk with colleagues in an office,” Ethan Fast, CTO and cofounder of the cryptocurrency exchange firm Nash, told Wood. “When you work remotely, you can no longer rely on those. You have to be proactive and intentional about communication.”

Do a quick assessment of your software tools. You might find yourself questioning whether the tools that worked well when you were going into the office still make sense in a shifting work environment. Many software firms are offering free versions of their remote work tools to organizations as they try to figure out what works best for them. While it’s not necessarily easy to try something new, the remote environment may offer a little more flexibility than you had before.

If, after doing your homework and asking the right questions, you still believe a certain project just can’t proceed right now, don’t fret. There are always other places where you can divert your resources. After all, the shifting global climate isn’t doing anyone any favors right now.

But if you think these issues through, you’ll come away with a stronger understanding of the mountains your team can still move right now. You might be surprised.

(lucadp/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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